Roselle Catholic Lions set sights on future with a young team

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ROSELLE, NJ — With only a handful of seniors on the roster, those in charge of the Lions’ fortunes moving forward have their sights set on dominating in the not-too-distant future.

However, that doesn’t mean that Roselle Catholic High School baseball can’t begin to show its winning ways at present time.

“This is all about the kids,” said head coach Craig Goldberg. “The potential here is great. It’s all about the kids buying into what we do and doing the right things.”

Goldberg, who played at Arthur L. Johnson High School in Clark, which he graduated from in 2000, is in his first year as a head coach. The Hazlet resident was previously a varsity assistant coach for five years at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, under the guidance of head coach Mike Murray Jr., and, before that, at John F. Kennedy Memorial High School in Iselin.

Goldberg is assisted by Michael Ramirez, who played at St. Joe’s before Goldberg coached there and then collegiately at Jersey City University.

Roselle Catholic baseball began the week with a 5-1 overall record, with the Lions leading the Union County Conference’s Valley Division standings at 3-0 heading into the scheduled division clash at Roselle Park High School on Tuesday, April 26.

When the teams met on Monday, April 11, at Roselle Catholic, the Lions came out on top, 10-9.

A big division game vs. Rahway High School was rained out last week and is now rescheduled for Wednesday, May 4. The date of the division game at Roselle Catholic is still to be determined.

Rahway began the week at 4-1, after beating South Amboy Middle/High School, 9-7, on Sunday, April 24, in the third and final day of the annual Autism Awareness Games at North Brunswick’s Community Park.

Freshman pitcher-infielder Derek Escobar of Elizabeth began the week leading Roselle Catholic in home runs with one and RBIs with 15. Fellow freshman infielder Santiago Alvarez, also of Elizabeth, led in hits with 13, while sophomore Aidan Bell was the team leader in runs scored with 10.

Escobar and Alvarez both played on the Elmora Troopers squad of Elizabeth that reached the Little League World Series in 2019.

“They’re both swinging the bat well,” Goldberg said.

Senior Danny Keane led all Roselle Catholic pitchers with 15 innings, while striking out 22 and walking 10. He works well with senior catcher Tyler Neain. They are Roselle Catholic’s captains.

Keane, who began the week with a 1-1 record after his first three starts, will continue playing in college at Caldwell University. The left-hander pitched six scoreless innings in Roselle Catholic’s season-opening, 10-9, Valley Division home win against Roselle Park on Monday, April 11. He then won at Linden High School, 11-1, on Saturday, April 16, and took the loss at home against Glen Ridge High School, 14-4, on Thursday, April 21.

“He’s a rock on the mound,” Goldberg said of the Union resident. Neain is also from Union.

“Danny has a firm fastball and a good curve,” Goldberg continued. “He looks to get ahead with his fastball and uses his curve for his out pitch.”

Goldberg also said that freshman Ian Acevedo has been throwing the ball well so far.

Roselle Catholic opened with Valley Division wins against Roselle Park, Hillside and Plainfield high schools. The Lions then won at Linden, lost at home to Glen Ridge and then beat Timothy Christian School.

“We want to be a program of class and get Roselle Catholic back to being a baseball school again,” said Goldberg, who succeeded John McAndrew as Roselle Catholic’s head coach. McAndrew is now the assistant pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at New Jersey City University.

“The kids are working hard,” Goldberg said. “We have veteran leadership and younger guys that are hungry.”

Notes: Goldberg played varsity for three years at Arthur L. Johnson High School, led by head coaches Gary Ruban and Frank Malta. In 2002, Malta guided the Crusaders to the Union County Tournament championship game, where they lost to Westfield. Johnson also reached the final in 2019, falling to Scotch Plains–Fanwood High School.

Roselle Catholic won the UCT in 2005 behind the pitching of junior right-hander Nick Nolan, who then excelled at Kean University. The Lions also reached the final the year before in 2004 and the year after in 2006.

Goldberg teaches at Iselin Middle School in Woodbridge.

“We also have two sophomores in Quaran Williams and Aidan Bell doing quite well,” Goldberg said. “We’re after a division title and also want to make a statement in the upcoming county and state tournaments.”

Photos Courtesy of RC Lions Den